Smoked Welsh Lamb Shoulder Birria Tacos by Leyli Homayoonfar

  • Prep time 30 mins
  • Cook time 4 hrs
  • Serves 5+


  • 1 whole shoulder of Welsh lamb (1.5kg)
  • 2 tbsp light oil
  • Handful of wild garlic leaves or 1 whole banana leaf (optional)

For the adobo (marinade):

  • 5 cloves
  • 2 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp mexican oregano
  • 4 tbsp light oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 30g x dried arbol chilli, stem removed
  • 6 x dried guajillo chilli, stem and seeds removed
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • 100g tinned chipotle chilli
  • 1 tinned plum tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 50ml apple cider vinegar


For the adobo (marinade):


  1. Begin by toasting the spices; break up the cinnamon stick with your hands and add to the pan along with the cloves, cumin and coriander seeds, dry roast over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, place the roasted spices in a spice grinder or finely grind by hand using a pestle and mortar, add the smoked paprika and oregano and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan, add the garlic and onions, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
  3. Add the ground spice powder followed by the bay leaves and whole dried chillies, mix until well combined and allow to fry for 1-2 minutes before stirring in the chipotle chillies, tinned tomatoes, sugar and vinegar.
  4. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat and carefully transfer the contents of the pan to a blender. Blitz to a smooth paste.

For the lamb:


  1. Prepare a BBQ with enough coal to cook steadily for 2-3 hours. Coat the lamb with light oil and season well with sea salt and black pepper.
  2. Grill the lamb over hot coals for 3 minutes on each side until well coloured but not burnt. If flames flare up from the dripping fat, gently move the lamb away from them.
  3. Transfer the lamb to a baking tray lined with a double layer of foil. Spread the adobo marinade and all over the lamb and cover with the wild garlic or banana leaves (optional) and pour in a litre of water to the bottom of the tray. Loosely scrunch another double layer of foil over the top of the lamb.
  4. Put the tray on the barbecue grill, then shut the lid, making sure the air vents are two-thirds closed on the top and bottom (to keep the temperature between 160-180°C).
  5. Cook the lamb for 3-4 hours. Check it every half hour – if it appears to be burning or the juices in the tray seem to be boiling away, add more water.
  6. After 3-4 hours the lamb should be completely tender to the touch and easily pulled away from the bone. Remove from the BBQ, peel back the foil and the leaves, reserve the cooking liquor or “consomme” into a small serving bowl and set aside. Shred the lamb using two forks.
  7. Serve the pulled spiced lamb alongside the consomme, pickled red onion, salsa roja, and corn tortillas.

*This recipe can be made using a conventional oven, simply follow the same method as above, switch out the browning on the BBQ with browning in a heavy based pan, and switch returning to the BBQ, to placing in a preheated oven of 200° / 180˚C fan / Gas 6. Cooking times are the same as above.

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